The opening week of the 2019 NBA season is upon us and basketball fans couldn’t be happier. The level of parity hasn’t been this great in years. For the first time in four years, the Golden State Warriors aren’t in the conversation to make it to the NBA Finals. There are at least five teams who are legitimate title contenders now that super teams have died. With that said, here are some of my way too early NBA hot takes for the 2019 season.
Way Too Early Hot Takes for the 2019-2020 NBA Season
Boston Barely Makes the Playoffs
The Boston Celtics took a hit losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in the offseason. We all expected Irving to leave, but Horford was a bit of a surprise when he defected to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics landed Kemba Walker to fill Irving’s void and Enes Kanter to replace Horford. The overall talent level at both positions dropped.
The Celtics haven’t lived up to expectations and I don’t see this team proving doubters wrong. Jayson Tatum had a great rookie season but plateaued last year with his numbers only slightly improving. He took 200 more shots last year which only accounted for an average of two more points per game. Jaylen Brown signed a four-year, $115 million contract extension this past week, but his numbers are closely similar to Cedi Osman whose extension was $31 million for four years. Can we say desperation? The Celtics are putting their eggs in the basket of players who yet to prove they can make a run in the postseason. While the East is wide open, the problem is that the East is wide open.
Houston Will Have a Problem
We’ve all seen the clip of James Harden and Russell Westbrook‘s animated conversation. While Chris Webber attempted to downplay it, that discussion showed frustration. I don’t believe this will turn into Draymond Green–Kevin Durant (yet), but those two personalities are nuclear in different ways. Westbrook will explode on sight, while Harden is more of the passive-aggressive type that will get management involved. Look what happened to Chris Paul.
Both players have their respective deficiencies on the court. Over the last two seasons, both Harden and Westbrook are averaging 4.7 turnovers per game. Harden is a known walking defensive liability around the league. According to NBA.com, Harden’s defensive rating was 110.3 last season. On the other hand, Westbrook is known to jack up his fair share of bad shots. Among all guards last season, Westbrook ranked last in effective field goal percentage at 46.8%. He singlehandedly shot the Oklahoma City Thunder to elimination last season. You can be the best of friends, but not be good co-workers.
Minnesota Will Shed Excess Weight
The career of the once-promising Canadian star Andrew Wiggins has been nothing short of disappointing. Wiggins had a lot of hype coming out of the University of Kansas. There were even many think pieces claiming that the Minnesota Timberwolves won in the Kevin Love trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, history has proven that not to be the case. Kevin Love is an NBA champion and Wiggins has yet to play in the second round of the playoffs.
While it may be difficult to move that massive contract he signed, there may be space on an up and coming young team for Wiggins. Maybe the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, or Indiana Pacers make a trade right at the trade deadline to try to make a playoff push. Either way, expect the rumors start to circulate if Wiggins doesn’t make a significant jump in production.
The Rookie of the Year Won’t be in New Orleans
Thy hype train alone should guarantee Zion Williamson the award. However, I believe someone in the field will emerge to ultimately claim the award. With Williamson expected to be out 6-8 weeks with his knee injury, the rest of the rookies have an early jump. I’m looking at Coby White, Ja Morant, or Rui Hachimura as their respective teams will rely on them more than the New Orleans Pelicans will lean on Williamson.
These other rookies have a better all-around offensive game than Williamson. He must develop at least a mid-range jumper to really be effective in the NBA. Leaping out of the gym to dunk and block shots doesn’t last when part of your knee is gone.
The Western Conference Finals Won’t Include Everyone
The Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers will battle for the right to play in the NBA Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers will not make the conference finals due to seeding. The Clippers and the Lakers will meet up in the semifinals and the Clippers will advance. Both L.A. teams will either be seeded two and three or one and four or five, placing them in the same group in the playoff bracket.
The Lakers are an assembled team while the Clippers were a good team that added two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers not only have two of the best two-way players in Leonard and George, but they also have the best bench led by Lou Williams. The Lakers are top-heavy and their bench lacks a player who can come in and put up 15 points consistently. Rob Pelinka needs to get on the phone with Carmelo Anthony and quickly as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn’t going to get it done.
The 2019 NBA season will be full of surprises and excitement. We have already seen a handful of overtime games and an unlikely buzzer-beater. I have a few other hot takes like the Warriors won’t make the playoffs, (neither will the Brooklyn Nets), and LeBron James will finally shave his hair, but I’ll go into more detail at a later date.
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